Ptáček says his study is unique because it shows that advanced sleep phase “isn’t rare, and it’s only a problem if the person finds it undesirable.” He and his co-authors found that several advantages come with being an early riser. Extreme larks wake up more easily than others, and they don’t tend to sleep in on weekends, as many others do. They might even be healthier than people who are night owls: Late bedtimes are associated with some negative health consequences, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Also in their favor, larks are more likely to benefit from the societal impression that people who wake up early are go-getters and people who wake up late are lazy. That’s not actually true; plenty of night owls wake at noon and work until 2 a.m., right as larks are getting up and brewing coffee. Nevertheless, the stereotype persists.
Being an extreme lark isn’t always blissful, though. Larks aren’t exactly the life of the party: They tend to go to bed by 8:30 p.m., the Sleep study found. Sabra Margaret Abbott, a neurologist at Northwestern University who wasn’t involved with the study, explains that some patients might find that their natural sleep window happens from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., but they are rarely able to go to bed before 10 p.m. because of work and family obligations. “They will still not be able to sleep past 3 a.m., but will then be sleep deprived the following day,” she told me via email.